Kenya Travel and Leisure, Kenya Africa Vacations and Holidays
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Kenya Public holidays
January 1-New Year's Day
Good Friday - date variable
Easter - date variable
Easter Monday - date variable
May 1-Labour Day
June 1-Madaraka Day
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) - date depends on the sighting of the moon
October 20-Mashujaa Day, formerly Kenyatta Day
December 12-Jamhuri Day
December 25-Christmas Day
December 26-Boxing Day
Trips Holidays and Vacations Travel Africa - Kenya Destination
Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a sovereign state in Africa. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya lies on the equator with the Indian Ocean to the south-east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 km2 (224,445 sq mi) and has a population of about 44 million in July 2012. The country is named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa.
Mount Kenya was originally referred to variously as "Mt. Kirinyaga" and "Mt. Kiinyaa" by the indigenous people. "Kirinyaga, Kerenyaga, Kiinyaa" meaning the 'mountain of whiteness' because of its snow capped peak; the name was subsequently appropriated to Mt. Kenya because of the inability of the British to pronounce "Kirinyaga/Kiinyaa" correctly.
The country has a warm and humid climate along its Indian Ocean coastline, with wildlife-rich savannah grasslands inland towards the capital. Nairobi has a cool climate that gets colder approaching Mount Kenya, which has three permanently snow-capped peaks.
Further inland there is a warm and humid climate around Lake Victoria, and temperate forested and hilly areas in the western region. The northeastern regions along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia are arid and semi-arid areas with near-desert landscapes. Lake Victoria, the world's second largest fresh-water lake and the world's largest tropical lake, is situated to the southwest and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania.
Kenya is famous for its safaris and diverse wildlife reserves and national parks such as the East and West Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park. There are several world heritage sites such as Lamu, and world renowned beaches such as Kilifi where international yachting competitions are held each year.
The African Great Lakes region, of which Kenya is a part, has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic period. The Bantu expansion reached the area from West-Central Africa by the first millennium AD, and the borders of the modern state comprise the crossroads of the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic ethno-linguistic areas of the continent, making Kenya a multi-cultural country.
European and Arab presence in Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period, but European exploration of the interior began only in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, known from 1920 as the Kenya Colony. The Republic of Kenya became independent in December 1963. Following a referendum in August 2010 and adoption of a new constitution, Kenya is now divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties, governed by elected governors.
The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in East and Central Africa. Agriculture is a major employer and the country traditionally exports tea and coffee, and more recently fresh flowers to Europe. The service industry is a major economic driver. Kenya is a member of the East African Community. Compared with other African countries, Kenya enjoys relatively high political and social stability.
Kenya Geography and Climate
At 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar). It lies between latitudes 5°N and 5°S, and longitudes 34° and 42°E. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley; a fertile plateau lies in the east.
The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya and the second highest peak on the continent: Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m or 19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations.
The "long rains" season occurs from March/April to May/June. The "short rains" season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July and August.
Kenya has considerable land area devoted to wildlife habitats, including the Masai Mara, where Blue Wildebeest and other bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 blue wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season.
The "Big Five" animals of Africa can be found in Kenya and in the Masai Mara in particular: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant. A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles and birds can be found in the national parks and game reserves in the country. The annual animal migration – especially migration of the wildebeest – occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part.
Kenya is the setting for one of the Natural Wonders of the World – the great wildebeest migration. 11.5 million of these ungulates migrate a distance of 1,800 miles (2,897 km) from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, in a constant clockwise fashion, searching for food and water supplies.
Kenya Government and Politics
Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President is both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly or parliamentary lower house.
The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. There was growing concern especially during former president Daniel arap Moi's tenure that the executive was increasingly meddling with the affairs of the judiciary.
Kenya ranks low on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a metric which attempts to gauge the prevalence of public sector corruption in various countries. In 2012, the nation placed 139th out of 176 total countries in the CPI, with a score of 27/100.
Following general elections held in 1997, the Constitution of Kenya Review Act designed to pave the way for more comprehensive amendments to the Kenyan constitution was passed by the local parliament.
In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, most of which were judged free and fair by international observers. The 2002 elections marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution in that power was transferred peacefully from the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which had ruled the country since independence to the National Rainbow Coalition, a coalition of political parties.
Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki, the new ruling coalition promised to focus its efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and rewriting its constitution. A few of these promises have been met. There is free primary education. In 2007, the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily subsidised, with the government footing all tuition fees
Kenya Political Divisions
Constituencies are an electoral subdivision, with each county comprising a whole number of constituencies. An Interim Boundaries commission was formed in year 2010 to review the constituencies and in its report, it recommended creation of an additional 80 constituencies. Previous to the 2013 elections, there were 210 constituencies in Kenya
Despite western donors' early disillusionment with the government, the economy has seen much expansion, seen by strong performance in tourism, higher education and telecommunications, and acceptable post-drought results in agriculture, especially the vital tea sector. Kenya's economy grew by more than 7% in 2007, and its foreign debt was greatly reduced. But this changed immediately after the disputed presidential election of December 2007, following the chaos which engulfed the country.
East and Central Africa's biggest economy has posted tremendous growth in the service sector, boosted by rapid expansion in telecommunication and financial activity over the last decade, and now contributes 62 percent of GDP. Unfortunately, a massive 22 percent of GDP still comes from the unreliable agricultural sector which employs 75 percent of the labour force (a consistent characteristic of under-developed economies that have not attained food security – an important catalyst of economic growth) and a significant portion of the population regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid. Industry and manufacturing is the smallest sector that accounts for 16 percent of the GDP.
Kenya has traditionally been a liberal market with minimal government involvement (price control) seen in the oil industry. However, recent legislation allows the government to determine and gazette price-controls on essential commodities like maize flour, kerosine and cooking oil.
Privatisation of state corporations like the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Company, which resulted in East Africa's most profitable company – Safaricom, has led to their revival because of massive private investment.
Tourists, the largest number from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive East and West Tsavo National Park (20,808 square kilometres (8,034 sq mi)) in the southeast. Tourism has seen a substantial revival over the past several years and is the major contributor to the pick-up in the country's economic growth.
Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by flowers, tea, and coffee. In 2006 tourism generated US$803 million, up from US$699 million the previous year. Presently, there are also numerous Shopping Malls in Kenya. In addition, there are two hypermarkets in Kenya.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, ethnic groups in the nation are represented as follows: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%.
The country has a young population, with 73% of residents aged below 30 years because of rapid population growth; from 2.9 million to 40 million inhabitants over the last century.
According to Ethnologue, there are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya. Most belong to two broad language families: Niger-Congo (Bantu branch) and Nilo-Saharan (Nilotic branch), spoken by the country's Bantu and Nilotic populations, respectively. The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afro-Asiatic family, with the Indian and European residents speaking languages from the Indo-European family.
In addition, Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is home to Kibera, one of the world's largest slums. The shanty town is believed to house between 170,000 and 1 million locals. The UNHCR base in Dadaab in the north also currently houses around 500,000 people
Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in Coast Province, comprising 50 percent of the total population there. Roughly 8% of Muslims are Shia and another 8% are non-denominational Muslims, while 73% are Sunni and the rest Ahmadiyya. Western areas of Coast Province are mostly Christian.
The upper part of Eastern Province is home to 10 percent of the country's Muslims, where they constitute the majority religious group. In addition, there is a large Hindu population in Kenya (around 300,000), who have played a key role in the local economy, they are mostly of Indian origin. There is also a small group of Baha'is.
Despite major achievements in the health sector, Kenya still faces many challenges. The life expectancy estimate has dropped to approximately 55 years in 2009 – five years below 1990 levels. The infant mortality rate is high at approximately 44 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012. The WHO estimated in 2011 that only 42% of births were attended by a skilled health professional.
Diseases of poverty directly correlate with a country's economic performance and wealth distribution: Half of Kenyans live below the poverty line near a struggling middle-class and preventable diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition are the biggest burden, major child-killers and responsible for much morbidity; weak policies, corruption, inadequate health workers, weak management and poor leadership in the public health sector are largely to blame. According to 2009 estimates, HIV prevalence is about 6.3% of the adult population. However, the 2011 UNAIDS Report suggests that the HIV epidemic may be improving in Kenya, as HIV prevalence is declining among young people (ages 15–24) and pregnant women.
The total fertility rate in Kenya is estimated to be 4.49 children per woman in 2012. Maternal mortality is high, partly because of female genital mutilation. This practice is however on the decline as the country becomes more modernised and the practice was also banned in the country in 2011.
Notable peoples include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. The Maasai culture is well known because of tourism, despite being a minor percentage of the Kenyan population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewellery.
Popular Kenyan newspapers include:
M.G. Vassanji's 2003 novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall won the Giller Prize in 2003. It is the fictional memoir of a Kenyan of Indian heritage and his family as they adjust to the changing political climates in colonial and post-colonial Kenya.
Additionally, since 2003, the literary journal Kwani? has been publishing Kenyan contemporary literature.
The guitar is the most dominant instrument in Kenyan popular music. Guitar rhythms are very complex and include both native beats and imported ones, especially the Congolese cavacha rhythm. Music usually involves the interplay of multiple parts, and more recently, showy guitar solos as well.
Lyrics are most often in Swahili or English. There's also some emerging aspect of Lingala borrowed from Congolese musicians. Lyrics are also written in the indigenous languages, though urban radio will generally not play music in one of the "tribal" languages. This however has been seen through the emergence of vernacular radio stations that broadcast in native languages.
Benga music has been popular since the late 1960s, especially in the area around Lake Victoria. The word benga is occasionally used to refer to any kind of pop music. Bass, guitar and percussion are the usual instruments.
Kenya won several medals during the Beijing Olympics, six gold, four silver and four bronze, making it Africa's most successful nation in the 2008 Olympics. New athletes gained attention, such as Pamela Jelimo, the women's 800m gold medalist who went ahead to win the IAAF Golden League jackpot, and Samuel Wanjiru who won the men's marathon. Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty in the 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono's spectacular string of world record performances.
Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar. The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States. Most of these defections occur because of economic or financial factors. Some elite Kenyan runners who cannot qualify for their country's strong national team find it easier to qualify by running for other countries.
Kenya Food and Cuisine
In western Kenya, among the Luhya, Luo and Kalenjin, lye is a common ingredient in most traditional foods and mursik – a traditional milk drink. It is not yet known whether lye is responsible for the high prevalence of throat cancer in these region.
In cities such as Nairobi, there are fast food restaurants which include Steers and KFC and soon will include others like Subway.
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